Last post, I showed you how I chose my market.
The next step reach out to them so you can ask them questions to find a painful problem that will lead you to building your first product.
In this post you will learn my approach to reaching out to a market. It’s not the only way, but it’s what worked for me.
When you are going to reach out to your market, the first thing you should do is think about where they are and what they are doing all day. For me, I knew physical therapists were busy with patients all day, so calling them and interrupting when they are with a patient is not a good idea. Email was the obvious first choice. Other markets that are manning the phones all day, like car dealers, might be easiest to cold call. Thinking this way is a great start, but next you want to take action and make some calls or send some emails to see what works. You won’t know what works until you test things out… I’ve seen people have success with cold calls, emails, LinkedIn messages, and more… That said, I’m going to focus on email in this post because it’s what I focused on and is what’s proven to work the best in most cases.
There are 2 email strategies that I use. The first was sending out 50 emails at a time using a template. This works really well and is proven… A lot of you know about it using the “strange question” email. The second, was sending one email at a time, and personalizing each one. This approach is my favorite. It creates better relationships, is more personal, and has gotten me >80% response rate. This is the method I’ll go through here…
Create your list
There are loads of different ways to create email lists. I’m not going to get into all of them here. What worked for me, was simply searching on google maps for my market name, visiting each persons website, and gathering personal email addresses (email@example.com not firstname.lastname@example.org).
I did this a few times myself until I had it down then I hired an assistant on ODesk to do it for me. I only had about 2 hours per day to work on this, so outsourcing this process enabled me to connect with far more people, faster.
Write the email
Your email should be very simple. Here are a few rules.
- Always address a person directly. If you don’t, you are unlikely to get a response.
- Keep it short (under 5 sentences)
- Include something personal about them on the first line of the email.
- Make it easy to reply by asking one simple question.
- Adjust your email as you learn more about your market to improve open and response rates. Test, adjust, repeat.
Here is one email that worked well for me…
Subject: Can you help me [first name]?
Read your blog post on the xyz blog and thought it was great, so I felt the need to reach out.
My name is Carl and I am a software entrepreneur doing research on [market name]. My goal is to learn about the biggest pains you have running your business and to solve a big problem that will make your life easier.
What are your biggest frustrations with managing your business?
Love to hear back from you, even if it’s only one sentence.
Your Phone Number
Link to your LinkedIn account
Each evening I took a list of about 50 people and uploaded them into ToutApp (a service that helps you send and track your emails). I’d schedule them to go out the following morning just before 9am in their local timezone. Then I’d wake up to an inbox full of a few responses. For people that do not respond, I’d look at Tout to see who opened the emails and followup with another email a week later basically just asking if they got the original email. This doubles the response rate.
Turn it into a habit
Once I got this process going I quickly turned it into a habit. My good friend Josh Isaak talks about the 20 mile march. It’s hugely important to create this type of routine because this is not an overnight process and without forming the routine, I would have burnt myself out.
For me it was to schedule 50 emails to go out each night to go out the following morning. Then I’d write responses, schedule and have calls each morning before work. I was on fire during this period. And I have no doubt it’s because I created this routine for myself.
Hit me up with any questions you have and I’ll answer them all.
Also, tell me what you’d like to learn more about in the comments and I’ll make that the next post.